Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge to the world from Barcelona yesterday. As with every Galaxy Unpacked event at the Mobile World Congress, there was a lot of spectacle, fanfare and flash, as well as an appearance from a certain social media CEO. This time around, Samsung has arguably created the perfect smartphones.
I arrived at Barcelona’s CCIB convention center with fellow AndroidPIT colleagues. Once inside, we picked up registration badges and entered an auditorium where hundreds of media representatives from around the world were gathering. Resting on every seat inside was a Gear VR headset. It was obvious that a virtual reality presentation would be included in the launch, but what would it be?
As the event began, lights flashed, sounds effects rumbled and walls surrounding the stage were hoisted to the ceiling. Samsung President of Mobile Business Communications DJ Koh walked on stage and began a sermon on the very personal journey that the S7’s creation had involved. “We are human with all our human failures,” Mr Koh said, highlighting that the people who created the new Galaxy devices were as human as the customers who buy them.
After his initial speech, Mr Koh asked the audience to put on the Gear VR headsets. This was when the presentation got interesting. I put on my headset and there, in front of me, was a virtual auditorium mirroring the one we sat in. Through the lenses I saw a large 3D cube like the one pictured below and, within a few moments, the virtual floor and ceiling began to break away.
I looked down and the entire room was crumbling. We were then pulled through a vortex which had appeared where the cube was, pulling us into a "new galaxy". It was perhaps what traveling through time might look like. At the end of the vortex were the new Galaxy phones, all glossy and edgy. Then the VR presentation ended and we removed our headsets.
And there was Mr Koh standing on the stage that we saw fall to pieces a moment earlier, holding the real S7 and S7 Edge in his hands. Continuity between the real-world presentation, the reality-bending VR interlude, and the final revelation of the phones was superb.
But it got better. There was a second VR clip for us to watch. We donned the headsets once more and were transported somewhere far away. While hundreds of us sat in the dark auditorium gazing through Samsung’s lenses, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walked on stage. Surprise!
Mr Zuckerberg’s appearance was unexpected. The audience was initially a little stunned, but surprised gasps quickly gave way to a rush towards the stage for photographs of the CEO. Mr Zuckerberg spoke about a partnership between Facebook and Samsung and why the Gear VR would be the next big thing.
With the potential for VR to be one of the next major digital platforms, and the way Facebook has transformed the social lives of a billion internet users, the question left hanging in the air at the end of Unpacked was not if this was possible, but when.
What do you think of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge launch and Samsung's partnership with Facebook? Let us know in the comments.